Monday, October 09, 2006


I got some good presents as part of International Blanders Day 2006, largely on a gastronomic theme. My sisters gave me a beautiful cookbook and some gourmet ingredients. My parents gave me a high tech planter designed to produce bumper crops of tomatoes. The Flatmate gave me a bottle of wine. And JC treated me to a surprise dinner at Jackson's.

It was a wonderful meal, of exactly the sort I have come to expect from this restaurant, but the various exquisite delicacies from the uberchefs generated different reactions from JC and me.

My response to the food was a fairly constant soundtrack of delighted gasps and groans, as if I was the star of some porn version of 'Iron Chef'. The spiced pumpkin soup, served in a shot glass with a tiny papadum, was captivating. The caramelised pork belly with apple, calvados and sage was what the UN wishes it could be; a diverse range of flavours all working together to create something far greater than themselves. Even the sprig of tempura-fried sage, intended to be little more than garnish, caused me to moan in a very unseemly fashion. At the waiter's suggestion I teamed the pork with a local pinot, which tasted of liquid ecstacy and shone with a translucent colour which, if you saw it in a painting, would encourage you to claim the responsible artist a genius. Finally, the pineapple tart with rum and raisin icecream was presented with a crown of flossed sugar, as if it were a giant dandelion puff, and may as well have been soaked in heroin for all the bliss it caused.

JC had the rabbit, about which I waxed rhapsodic here, accompanied by a glass of the famous Talijanich Graciano. Then for dessert, he enjoyed the raspberry souffle with chocolate icecream. He said, when pressed, that they were very good.

"But you had the beetroot risotto!" I protested, appalled by his apparent lack of flavour-induced seizures. "What do you think of the beetroot risotto?"

"It's very tasty," he said.

"Tasty? Tasty? Doesn't it make you want to build an altar over next to the hostess stand and present it as an offering to Almighty God, in thanks for His goodness in giving us tastebuds?"

"No. But it is very nice."

Apparently my echo of 'NICE!?' was heard as far away as Como.

And I don't mean the local Como. I mean the one in Italy.

Fabrizio: Mamma mia! Someone failed to properly appreciate the beetroot risotto again!

Nonna: Il dio ci ha misericordia! (crosses self and pulls black shawl fearfully over head).

Once I'd calmed down, we discussed taste. Perhaps, we theorised, gastronomy is a little like writing, painting or athletic prowess: a person can be taught a certain number of skills, but some of us just have a natural talent or discernment. JC, for example, can tell the difference between a mediocre guitar riff and a great one, when they both sound more or less alike to me. I, on the other hand, can tell the difference between the works of culinary indifference at Terrazza or Bella Rosa, and the works of divine intervention at Jackson's. It's all part of the varied spectrum of human acheivement and understanding.

Which is a polite way of saying that I'm right.


Blogger Jege (Jen) said...

Mmmmm.... heroin-soaked pineapple tarts....

2:06 AM  

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